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Monday, December 04, 2006

Rumsfeld reincarnated

According to PA John Reid has today ruled out giving up the UK's veto over police and justice issues. In typical straight-talking fashion he said,

"It's time to move on - it is time to concentrate on our main business,
which should always be delivering practical outcomes. There's a clear and
probably overwhelming majority against (giving up the veto). That's our view.
That's the view of our governments. We should not, by using weasel words,
attempt to revisit this at a higher level when there's such a clear
majority."

Great news. Although I'm not so sure the Commission would agree. One only needs to read an interview from last week with Jonathan Faull, Director-General of the EU Commission's justice department, by the Commons Home Affairs committee (who we gave evidence to a couple of weeks ago).

John Denham asked him:

Can I assume, given the lack of success in the Finnish Presidency, that we
will not hear any more about the passerelle proposal?

(14 countries were apparently against the move)

Mr Faull: No.

Chairman: When do you expect us to hear about it next?

Mr Faull: ... By next summer we may have a better view of where the Union is going more generally, and then it may or may not be necessary to come back to the bridging clause issue.

Some other interesting points from his interview:

  • Faull says that Europol might soon take on a more hands-on policing approach - something the UK is trying to resist."Europol is designed to co-ordinate, and perhaps one day actually to run, investigations itself in a way which Interpol is not designed to do at all”. The Austrian Presidency also recently mooted giving Europol a greater role in national investigations. Watch this space.
  • He calls for an EU wide migration policy, so that the EU Commission can barter with non-EU countries over how many of their citizens the EU as a whole should let in each year.
  • Faull shows just how native he has gone: "among nearly all Europeans, not you [the UK] and not Ireland, of course, the borders have disappeared internally"

And there's this curious answer to Denham's question of whether different countries applying the European Arrest Warrant in different ways has caused any practical problems:

We know what has happened. We do not necessarily know, and this sounds a bit
Rumsfeldian, what has not happened. We do not know what we do not know, and
these are early days.

That's cleared that one up then...

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